Remarks  by DG Azevêdo

Thank you Chair.

Distinguished members,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Bonjour, good morning and welcome to the WTO.

We are very proud to host this landmark event, and to celebrate cotton.

In one way or another, cotton binds us all together.

Cotton is more than just a fibre used to make clothes we all wear. It is more than just a source of edible oil, animal feed and fuel.

Cotton is a truly global commodity. It is grown in over 75 countries across five continents. In several least developed countries, cotton is central to job creation and economic stability. Just about everywhere humans live, cotton and its products are processed, transformed and traded.

Yet many cotton farmers, particularly in LDCs, struggle to reap the benefits of trade. Market access barriers diminish export opportunities. Subsidies give a leg up to producers in other countries. Supply-side challenges at home limit the competitiveness of export-oriented processing.

This is why Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mali — the Cotton Four — launched their Sectoral Initiative at the WTO in 2003, 16 years ago. And it is why they are seeking to have today, 7 October, recognized as World Cotton Day by the United Nations General Assembly.

Their goal is to shed light on the linkages between trade, cotton and development.

At the WTO, members have taken several meaningful steps forward. They have eliminated agricultural export subsidies, a major source of price distortions. They have worked to enable developing countries to benefit more from every step of the cotton value chain.

But there is still much work to be done to level the playing field for cotton producers, especially in LDCs. And that’s what today is all about.

I would like to thank our partners in making this event happen.

  • The FAO;
  • ITC;
  • The ICAC (International Cotton Advisory Committee).

And of course, I’d like to thank the WTO Secretariat, especially the Cotton Team.

We have a full agenda for you today: the launch of a Joint World Cotton Day Publication, panel discussions, an African pop-up store and even a fashion show.

It is my hope that World Cotton Day will become a platform to bring together the cotton, trade and development communities to foster greater value addition and value capture in developing countries.

We are moving in the right direction — so let's keep pushing forward.

Vive le coton! Merci à tous.




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